pixels             …everywhere.

Tag: digital light

Raspberry Pi continues to cook

by on Aug.15, 2011, under technology

Pixels need computing power to drive them… for players, content management and so forth. Pixels Everywhere will need low-cost computing power, and lots of it. The good news is that there’s a lot of work going on to make that happen.

One project that has been getting a lot of attention is the UK-based Raspberry Pi initiative  which I tweeted about a number of weeks ago.  Their goal is to create a pretty powerful computer that can be bought for $25 each in unit volumes. The tiny (very tiny) 700MHz ARM11-based computer will run linux, have built-in ethernet, USB, and video ports. It won’t have a lot of RAM… just 256MB… but will have an SD card slot.

Recently, Raspberry Pi announced they have an alpha version of the computer running. It’s physically larger than their eventual goal, but that’s normal at this stage to make debugging easier.

This could be an ultra-low cost player, networked to content management systems. The USB port means wireless, bluetooth, or other types of connectivity could be added. I wonder if OpenSplash will be able to run on it? Keep an eye on this one and let me know about any other similar computers you find.



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Pixels in X, Y, and Z

by on Aug.15, 2011, under art, fun, LED/OLED

Almost all displays are more-or-less two-dimensional –so many pixels in the ‘x’ dimension and so many in ‘y’. So-called 3D displays really aren’t 3D –the 3rd dimension is an illusion, created using a variety of

Brendan Vercoelen's LED Matrix

techniques including  polarization switching, lenticular lenses, shuttered glasses, and so on.

But if pixels are really going to be everywhere, why should they be restricted to just two dimensions? They don’t, of course, and people are experimenting with this.

I was looking at hackaday.com recently and found this post about a 3D LED cube assembled by Brendan Vercoelen while he was a student at New Zealand’s Victoria University. His goal was to make a 16x16x16 matrix of red/green LEDs (4096 of them) but he stopped at 16x16x8. That’s still very impressive when you consider he built this by hand — each LED has 3 connections to it which meant he did a lot of soldering. The first video below is from his site.

Seekway LED layered curtain

Others (experimenters and companies) are also exploring this. For example, Instructables.com tells you how to build a less-ambitious version yourself ( see 2nd video further down this posting). Seekway in China seems to be selling something similar using layers of LED curtains (perhaps readers who know Chinese  can comment more about what Seekway is doing).

Is this a practical 3D display? Probably not, but maybe that’s not the point. Maybe it’s simply a new and different way of expression, one more part of the digital light future.

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Pixel beauty ..only skin deep?

by on Aug.12, 2011, under architecture, fashion, interior design, LED/OLED, musings, news, novel technology, technology

Yesterday, researchers at the University of Illinois-Urbana announced skin-like patches (here) that have electronic circuits on them and can be put directly on the surface of the skin. Here is an excerpt (emphasis added by me):

“The circuit bends, wrinkles, and stretches with the mechanical properties of skin. The researchers demonstrated their concept through a diverse array of electronic components mounted on a thin, rubbery substrate, including sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and conductive coils and solar cells for power.”

The announcement goes on to say:

“The technology can connect you to the physical world and the cyberworld in a very natural way that feels very comfortable.”

They emphasize medical applications, but I think this has big implications on the broader digital light/pixels everywhere future. For example:

  • if this technology truly wrinkles, stretches and bends as well as the researchers claim, why restrict it to skin patches? Maybe this is a breakthrough that enables a big leap forward in highly flexible materials for

Fun things to think about on a Friday afternoon! Maybe the pieces are falling into place for ‘pixels everywhere’. The world  is going to be a canvas and you and I will be part of that canvas.

Oh no….are we approaching the digital light singularity … the pixelarity?




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Break open your piggy bank…. tiny pixels are now for sale

by on Aug.11, 2011, under fun

Sifteo starter kit

In early July of this year, I wrote about Sifteo in “Tiny pixels in your child’s pocket”. Sifteo cubes are now for sale, but they’re pretty expensive: a starter kit of 3 blocks for $149 with additional blocks at $45 each. You can learn more here.

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More Wearable Pixels…. get out your sewing machines.

by on Aug.09, 2011, under fashion, fun, LED/OLED

sewable pixels

In early July, I posted about ‘wearable pixels“.  The other day, I came across several kinds of sew-able pixels on the inventables.com website. Here’s a picture of one kind; there are more in the Inventables site.

It looks like you can’t control individual LEDs, but it would be cool if you could. Get out your sewing machines.

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Energy use in the pixels everywhere future

by on Aug.08, 2011, under energy use

Long term readers (it’s been all of two months, now!) may have noticed that I mention power consumption a lot. That’s because right now many of the obvious forms of digital light aren’t very power efficient. To be blunt, a world illuminated by modulated digital light could consume a lot more energy than today’s world of ordinary light. That’s a problem –a big problem. Can this be solved?  (Warning…. this is a longer than normal post, and still just scratches the surface of this important topic.)

(continue reading…)

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Pixels big enough to hug

by on Aug.05, 2011, under art, fun

Humbly admitting to a bit of narcissism, I googled ‘pixels everywhere‘ recently and stumbled upon ‘Pixels Motel Mozaique‘ by Dutch designers Jonas Vorwerk and Yoren Schriever. These indeed are (huge) pixels everywhere! I’m used to thinking about pixel sizes in fractions of a millimeter —these ones are fractions of a meter. In a world of megapixels, this site had decapixels (I understand they used just 50 pixels).

There’s a brief description of how the pixels work here. Each pixel’s color and brightness can be changed by tilting it (there is an accelerometer in each one). It certainly looks like people are having a lot of fun and it is pretty.

Now, if the pixels could  self-detect and if we could get content to them… Hmmmm…

Yoren Schriever on his site mentions that each cube has a data port and “…this port can also be used to communicate with the firmware, making it possible to send color commands to the cube, or read the accelerometer values from it“. Maybe it is  possible.

I wish I could have seen it in person. Great work, Jonas and Yoren. Thanks for inventing a new kind of interactive pixels. Who would have thought of pixels you could pick up and hug? I really, really like this.

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